Need or Want – thoughts from the ED

May 28, 2024

We often hear that people ‘need’ this or that. NGOs advertise for funds to cover an urgent need for people.

In times of emergency, these are much needed funds to ensure immediate survival but once some degree of security is in place are we really in a position to decide what people in other countries and in different cultures need?

When I travel to visit projects funded by REI I see many well-meaning projects abandoned and falling apart for various reasons: a lack of technical know-how, a lack of parts, a lack of provisions or simple a lack of interest. Most of these projects are well-intentioned with no hint of corruption involved but perhaps a lack of local knowledge and follow-through.

Experience has shown us that the best way to overcome such eventualities is to have total involvement from the local community.

Refugee communities are like our own communities – the people have their hopes and dreams and they have a mixture of skills. As a team at REI, we listen to what they want, why they want it, how they will achieve their aims and what the outcome will be.

Working for a small NGO I am able to meet the people involved, to see what they achieve and learn about what they go on to do beyond the project. I know that the funds invest in a stronger future as we see the follow-through works. 

We have lots of stories to share from beneficiaries like Hellen in Uganda who said: “After all What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?”

Jane Best, Executive Director
(the photo is of a school built for a community but never used)